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Coach da Silva credits his players for their tactical discipline
MERIDIAN JC 1
(Nathanael Chin 30)
VICTORIA JC 0
No one was surprised that the match between Meridian Junior College (MJC) and Victoria Junior College (VJC) yesterday at Millennia Institute was a tense affair, with a place in the semi-finals of the National Schools' A Division championship at stake.
In the end, MJC edged out their long-time rivals 1-0 and booked a semi-final spot against Raffles Institution (RI).
Former S.League player and current MJC head coach Fabio da Silva was effusive in his praise for both teams and admitted that it was a "50-50" game that could have easily swung in favour of VJC.
The Brazilian said: "VJC have always been very tough opponents for us. They have very good players, who are directed well by their coach, they work very hard and are a highly motivated team.
"It was a very open game and they created some chances as well.
"I give them credit for the way they played and they made it very difficult for us today."
The match was played at a high intensity from start to finish with both sets of players giving it their all for the 90 minutes.
Da Silva credited his boys for sticking to the game-plan.
"We made use of our strength which is playing long balls to our forwards who run in between the channels of the defence.
"This is something that we have been working on and it worked today, as we managed to score a goal from this tactic," he said.
VJC could have opened the scoring in the 25th minute after Michael Sheng-En Collins did well to cut inside from the right flank onto his left foot, but his resulting effort went over the crossbar.
In the 30th minute, MJC's Justin Hui floated in an inch-perfect cross from the left flank for striker Nathanael Chin to head past VJC goalkeeper Jonas Andersen.
VJC could have restored parity just before half-time after a routine clearance was botched by the MJC defence, but striker Karuppiah Arasu was prevetend from pulling the trigger by some last-ditch defending.
The second-half picked up from where the first half had left off with both teams pushing forward.
MJC were able to craft out more clear-cut scoring opportunities, with Royston Tan prominent.
He went on a mazy dribble in the 50th minute, skipping past several challenges, but was unable to get his shot off in time.
Royston came close again in the 65th minute, but his shot from distance was saved comfortably by the goalkeeper.
Despite the loss, VJC also made it to the last four after the game between Millennia Institute and St.Andrew's Junior College ended 1-1.
"It was clear that there was no touch (from the ACJC defender). I just lost balance because he slid in and I was a bit put off. So it was an easy decision for me."
- Raffles Institution’s Jonathan Chua on turning down a penalty that was awarded to his team
ACS family to meet again in A Boys' tennis final
It will be a family affair in the National Schools Boys' A Division tennis team final once again.
In what will surely be a raucous affair, Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), the defending champions, will battle Anglo-Chinese Junior College (ACJC) at the Kallang Tennis Centre next Tuesday.
In yesterday's semi-finals at the same venue, ACS (I) sent out a clear message of intent with a resounding 5-0 victory over St Andrew's Junior College (SAJC).
Not surprisingly, ACS (I) captain Will Angkawidjaja was ecstatic.
Speaking to The New Paper after the comprehensive win, the 18-year-old said: "Reaching the final has always been our aim and we've been working hard for it.
"Now, I can't wait to get going."
He added that the team will be training hard almost every day in preparation for the final.
In the other semi-final, ACJC struggled in the first match, a doubles encounter, with Sean Goh and Elgin Teo falling to Raffles Institution (RI)'s Nilay Jugtap and Brendan Yim 6-1, 6-3.
However, captain Lee Koon Wen got them back on level terms when he beat RI's Roy Liu 6-3, 6-4.
Teammate Tristan Tan then turned in a gallant performance, overcoming RI's Marcus Teoh in a tough three-set encounter 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.
ACJC's second doubles pair, Christopher Tang and Thng Wee Chuan then played the role of heroes.
In a tense encounter, they prevailed 7-6 (7/4), 3-6, 6-3 over RI's Trevor Ku and Samuel Kng to book their team's spot in the final.
ACJC also won the final singles to make the final score 4-1.
"We worked hard for it. We trained like crazy and even came back on weekends to train," said Koon Wen.
"I am happy we delivered."
ACJC have a chance to avenge their 3-2 loss to ACS (I) in last year's final, and Koon Wen is looking forward to it.
He said: "We've always had a friendly rivalry going on and I'm happy that we're meeting them in the final. I think we're strong enough to win but they will also put up a good fight."
ACJC coach Lee U-Jin, 29, said that the boys deserved it and that reaching the final was a great achievement.
"They fought hard and played exceptionally well today.
TRY OUR BEST
"I'm happy that it's an all-AC final. We're just going to try our best and you never know what will happen."
The ACJC girls' tennis team has also reached the A Division final, after beating Hwa Chong Institution 4-1 in their semi-final last Friday.
They will face defending champions RI in the final, also at Kallang next Tuesday.
"I’m happy that it’s an all-AC final. We’re just going to try our best and you never know what will happen."
- Anglo-Chinese Junior College tennis coach Lee U-Jin, on meeting Anglo-Chinese (Independent), who beat them in last year’s final